"A Star Is Born" focuses on Gaga's character, Ally. She's a singer with an amazing voice, but who has just about given up on her dream to make it big until a seasoned musician coaxes her into the spotlight. They fall in love, but tragedy awaits. Directed by Bradley Cooper, it opens in Japan on December 21st.
You have an incredible career in the music industry but you took up a new challenge on the big screen. Why did you do that?
A: I felt really ready for it. When I was young, I took acting classes. I loved acting. I wanted to be an actress before I wanted to be a singer. I know that some people might not know that or think that's crazy but if you look at what I've done and I've actually sort of discovered this through this process. I look at the albums that I've made. I look at how I've changed so much over the years and I think I've been creating characters over and over again so that I could star in the movie of my life.
And I felt ready also because this was not a career move. I really believed in Bradley [Cooper]. Bradley had a vision and his voice was so amazing that I felt this man can do it. He can play a rock star. I'm kind of a snob a little bit, when I watch movies that have singing in it because I'm a singer and I know everything about it: backstage and how it works and what everything is supposed to look like and feel like. And I can tell the nuance. And he was just nailing it from the beginning, from the moment that I met him at my house. So I was ready. And I was honored.
What struck me personally was you had very limited makeup on. In some scenes, it was as if you had no makeup at all. Were you comfortable with that?
A: I had to get comfortable with it. Bradley told me he wanted no makeup on my face. First, I tried to trick him. When we did a screen test for the movie and I did my "no makeup" makeup. It's when you put tons of makeup on to make it look like you have nothing on your face but you actually have a lot of makeup on. And he's very detailed. He looked right into my face and he said "I need makeup wipe." And he took one and he went right down my face and looked at it and there was all the makeup and he said “take it off.” And I did.
The characters I've created through the years I've been in this music industry, they were all my own creation and I've been able to have my own armor. But this was a collaboration. The creation of Ally, as a character, there was a lot of it that came from me but also a lot that came from what Bradley saw her to be. Taking it all away and finding strength in that vulnerability, it was an awesome creative experience. It was something I'll never forget.
In the film, Ally starts off as a fragile, vulnerable young woman but you can really see her gaining confidence through her performance. How did you prepare for this role?
A: I did a lot of a lot of acting workshops to prepare for this role. I spent months with my hair dyed my natural color, wearing no makeup all the time, dressing like her. What I did was, for example, the scene where -- I don't want to give too much away from the movie -- but when Jackson drags her onstage for the first time, I sort of did a what you would call an "as if" in acting. You have to act "as if" you've never sung onstage before in front of a huge audience. But I actually didn't really have to act at all. Because I already was her. I had become her. I was living her. And this circumstance that I put myself in as I thought "well, I'm about to be on stage with Bradley Cooper, a four-time Oscar nominee, this incredible actor that I have had a huge, huge admiration for, for so long," and that gave me the feeling and the fear of what it would be like to be on stage with him, to be in a movie. And that put me right on that spot and so I did that in a way for every single scene. I always had sort of what I would call like my witchery, my sorcery or my alchemy. I was doing some human biological chemistry to create somebody new and then when we went into film, I just had to be myself because I was already her.
I wanted to ask you about the #MeToo movement. Has it changed American society?
A: I am seeing so many women come forward. I think it's wonderful and very brave. I have come forward about it happening to me, too. I have never and still don't feel brave enough to say who it was. So I really admire these women. It's changed America in a good way because many women are speaking out and coming forward and also men are standing by our side and supporting us. I would like to see also that this spreads further around the world. I would also like to see that, you know, we also include men who have been assaulted as it happens to everyone. So that is important to me as well.
But I also would say that it has been also a bit of a challenge and disappointment for many women and men watching the Doctor Ford, Judge Kavanaugh situation. I think for many survivors, this was devastating and we have to, unfortunately, take the blow.
You tweeted out to President Trump for more compassion right after the wildfires in California. Why did you do that?
A: It was a disaster. It was something unlike I have ever experienced. People lost their homes. Thousands and thousands and miles and miles of land burned down. I just wanted to do my part. Show business is fun and it's something that I love. But at the end of the day, I'm a real human being and I care about people. And in a way, there was nothing else I could do.
You wake up in the morning and these fires are happening and you know that people are displaced from their homes, staying in shelters. And the right thing to do is to go and see them and bring them food and make sure they're comfortable and talk to them. And I also hope and pray that there will be mental health assistance in the months following this for people that have lost their homes. I hope that they are taken care of. And reach out to someone to talk to because it was very traumatic. And I'm very lucky that my home didn't burn down and I'm very grateful. But I feel a lot of compassion and love for those who lost their homes or loved ones.
Thank you for coming all the way to Japan right after the 3-11 earthquake. What motivates you to go to these natural disaster locations?
A: Because I love kindness. Kindness is the key to ALL things. I have a foundation, the Born This Way Foundation with my mother Cynthia. It's a charity. And we want to inspire youth to build a kinder and braver world. And we always say "be kind." And to me what kindness does is it's like an infection that is good. It's something that, when you give, it spreads. When you do one kind act, somebody receives that and then they go, "Hey you know, maybe I'll do a kind act !" So I guess I would just say that for me it's just me doing my part as a human being and [for] humanity. I care about people and I care about Japan. And when that happened I wanted to go and I wanted to be there and I wanted to be a loving and kind hand to those who were suffering and afraid, who had been through a lot.
Was there anyone who influenced you to act that way?
A: My mother. I'm very close with my mother. She is a very kind person. And something she used to always tell me if I had trouble with someone, like at school when I was bullied. I would say: "Mom, I don't know what to do. They make fun of my hair. They make fun that I like to sing, they make fun that I have these big dreams." She used to say, "Honey, kill them with kindness." And I never forgot that. It's great to be kind to kind people. But it's also ok to be kind to unkind people. It's the best way to do things. I really believe that.
Lastly, do you have a message for the Japanese people?
A: My message to my Japanese fans and to the Japanese people is: "I love you. Be kind to one another. Kindness makes the world go round."
Thank you so much to anyone who is going out to see our movie "Ally, A Star Is Born." And I just want to say how grateful and honored I was and am still to have worked with Bradley Cooper on this film. He's a tremendous actor, tremendous director, musician, producer, screenplay writer all the way around.
We are very, very grateful to everyone who is going out to see the movie and supporting us. And I can't wait to give my fans a big, big hug -- "AISHITEIMASU" ("I love you").
This interview was conducted on November 26th in Beverly Hills, California. The transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.